Lieberman talks to press.
(photo credit: Pool/Haaretz, Tal Cohen)
Israel has already made many gestures to the Palestinian Authority to facilitate restarting direct negotiations, and now the other side must show “goodwill,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle during a brief European visit Thursday that took him from Berlin to Bratislava.
Lieberman’s comments came just days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that he would bring a proposal to the cabinet to extend the settlement construction moratorium if the PA leadership recognized Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
A View From Israel: Lieberman’s rebuke
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Netanyahu said there was “no doubt that such a move by the Palestinian Authority would serve as a trust-building step, one that would open up a new horizon of hope and trust among broad sections of the Israeli public who, in light of the events of the past decade, have lost their confidence in the Palestinians’ desire to end the conflict.”
Lieberman, who has said in recent weeks that it will take generations to reach peace, said Thursday that the Israeli people wanted peace and that Netanyahu was prepared to restart talks without any preconditions.
Lieberman’s trip to Germany and Slovakia came just a few days after he
told French and Spanish foreign ministers Bernard Kouchner and Miguel
Moratinos that the EU should solve its own problems before presuming to
take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There was no indication that Lieberman repeated these comments, which
reportedly raised the ire of the French and Spanish foreign ministers,
during his conversation with Westerwelle.
Israeli diplomatic officials noted that despite Lieberman’s recent
string of controversial comments – including his address to the UN in
which he broke ranks with government policy and advocated the exchange
of populated territories – he continued to be invited to foreign
capitals, and foreign statesmen continued to want to meet him on their
trips to Jerusalem.
During his meeting with Westerwelle, Lieberman announced that the
Foreign Ministry would open a consulate in Munich next year. He will
meet with top Slovakian officials on Friday, and return to Israel
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